Chouara tannery

GPS coordinates: 34°03’58.1″N 4°58’15.7″W (34.066127, -4.971014)

Chouara or Shouara tannery is the largest of 3 tanneries built in Fez in 11th century. Usually it is told that all dyes are natural and that yellow color is achieved by saffron (really? with a spice worth 10 Euro per gram?). Of course modern dyes are also used in production of leather, especially for the colors that are hard/expensive to reach by natural ingredients.

During my visit Chouara tanneries didn’t stink at all. Probably because of early morning and +8°C in the night, or one should come closer to stone vessels to enjoy the smell.

How to visit Chouara tannery?

The best view at the tannery is from terraces of leather shops, located in the buildings around the tannery. But be prepared that you won’t be allowed to enjoy the view unless you buy something in the shop or pay a small fee.

I had an experience visiting tanneries with helper’s services. There was a helper outside Al-Attarine madrasa, so I have asked him about the price of a visit to Chouara tannery. Sly helper smiled and told me that I would pay as much as I think his service would deserve. All my attempts to get any price from him were useless.

View to tannery vessels and the city

All the way to tanneries (there’s a short way from madrasa, but not with the helper) he tried to bring us to shops. Finally he led us to an unremarkable door. On the 2d or 3d floor there was a leather shop.

After a visit we gave helper 10 MAD. He got offended and demanded more – despite of my warnings he was persuaded that we would buy something in the shops and he would get a commission. We added 5 MAD, reminded that he had missed a chance to tell us the price and left him.

Vessels
At first hides are softened in vessels full of white liquid
Vessels and a cat walking over it
Then they are dyed in vessels with colored liquids (cats like to walk between vessels)
Workers prepare hides
Workers prepare hides for drying
Hides drying under the sun
Finally the hides are dried under the sun

Tannery

Map

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